Page 1

an edition of The United Methodist Reporter Two Sections

Good News is here Help us share it! | 3A

Woman of Faith honored

No returns allowed

Section A

YWCA honors Walton | 4A

Church shrinking in England, Western Europe | 5A

Vol. 156 No. 5

049000 June 5, 2009

New South Georgia Advocate debuts You are holding in your hands the first edition of the new South Georgia Advocate. For 172 years, the Advocate has informed United Methodists in Georgia and celebrated the church, its people and its mission. Since 1837, United Methodists throughout Georgia have turned to the Advocate to read stories of how God is working in the lives of His churches and His people and to stay informed of news and events within the conference. These things readers have come to expect and rely upon

will not change. “We are excited about the possibilities the new South Georgia Advocate presents for telling the many stories of how God is working throughout the congregations and ministries of the South Georgia Annual Conference,” said James R. King, Jr., South Georgia resident bishop. “I am privileged to see many diverse, creative and spirit-filled signs of God’s redemptive work as I travel across this Annual Conference. “There is much good news that

needs to be shared to bring glory to God, and to bring encouragement to laity and clergy that God is creating a Christ-like world all around us. God is inviting and empowering us to be partners in this glorious work,” he said. In late January, the former Wesleyan Christian Advocate board of directors decided it was financially impossible to continue publication. Immediately upon learning of the board’s decision, South Georgia Bishop James King and North Georgia Bishop Mike

Watson received proposals from the United Methodist Reporter (UMR) in Dallas, Texas, outlining possibilities for continuing the paper in partnership with UMR. UMR is an award-winning and nationally recognized weekly newspaper read by more than 275,000 United Methodists nationwide. Communications representatives from the North Georgia and South Georgia Annual Conferences met together and separately with UMR leaders to consider various options

and decided to continue print communications, but to do so with separate editions for each Annual Conference in order to better tell the stories and serve the readers of each Conference. UMR is currently in similar partnerships with 20 Annual Conferences throughout the United States, including North Georgia and South Georgia. UMR has developed a successful business model that maximizes efficiency and controls costs while allowing each Annual See Advocate on page 2A

Leadership Team molds young adults for ministry By Kara Witherow, Editor To most people, Memorial Day weekend signifies the start of summer, the beginning of backyard barbeques and a harbinger of hot, hazy days. To those who serve as counselors for the South Georgia Conference Summer Camps, however, the weekend marks the beginning of a summer spent serving the Lord. This Memorial Day weekend, 18 young adults converged on Epworth By The Sea and began their twomonth stint as counselors. They will lead worship, perform skits, teach Bible studies and play endless games of Capture the Flag. Through it all, they are building relationships, loving on the kids and teaching them about Christ. To many Leadership Team alumni who are now serving in full-time ministry, the summers they spent as counselors were pivotal points in their lives that helped solidify their calling as ministers, and helped prepare them for a lifetime of ministry. “Fifty percent of who I am in ministry has to do with what happened while I was on the Leadership Team,” said Rev. Lee

The 2009 Leadership Team—Back row, left to right: Chris Strasburger, Aaron Fox, Steven Hinson, Pierce Drake, Isaac Callahan, Greg Harrison, Jack Caldwell. Middle row: Kelly Broyles, Allie Mugavin, Alaina Avera, Paige Culbreth, Leeanne Griffin. Front row: Alison Ozment, Amelia Shaw, Rebecca Ezell, Emily Hoxsie, Sophie Dunne, Lauren Caldwell. Not pictured: Matt Martin

Smith, pastor of the Plains and Preston churches who served on the Leadership Team from 1996 through 1998. “It’s not just another job; it’s not just babysitting. It’s a vital ministry. You don’t know the impact you might have on a kid’s

life or on each other’s lives.” Having grown up in the church, and being the child of a preacher, Smith said that he had an understanding of his faith from a young age, but didn’t give his life to Christ until he was 18. Once he

dedicated his life to the Lord, he had a renewed desire to serve and share his faith, and says that being involved on Leadership Team helped him truly understand what it means to have a relationship with Christ and helped him develop his

desire to be a part of the United Methodist Church. Rev. Jack Varnell, associate pastor at Valdosta First United Methodist Church, grew up going to Epworth, came to know the Lord See Leadership Team on page 2A

The United Methodist Reporter (USPS 954-500) is published weekly by UMR Communications, 1221 Profit Drive, Dallas, TX 75247. Periodicals Postage Paid at Dallas, TX and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to The United Methodist Reporter, PO Box 660275, Dallas, TX 75266-0275.




JUNE 5, 2009

Advocate: Witherow joins as editor Continued from front page Conference to tell its own stories and share its own news. As in this edition, the front section is comprised of news focusing on South Georgia United Methodism. The second section of the paper is generated or collected by the UMR staff and contains news from the larger United Methodist family and the global Church. The Conference Personnel Committee and the Conference Council on Finance and Administration agreed to shift the Conference funding for the Wesleyan Christian Advocate to the Office of Communications so that a staff person could be hired to assume primary responsibility for the South Georgia edition. Mrs. Kara Witherow has been hired as the editor to report, write and coordinate the South Georgia Advocate edition. Witherow brings extensive writing and communications experience to her new role, including employment with Gaylord Entertainment, parent company of Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.

“We are extremely fortunate to have someone with Kara’s skills, experience and spiritual commitment join our Conference staff to coordinate our Advocate edition,” said Dr. Brad Brady, Macon District Superintendent and cabinet member appointed by Bishop King to lead the Advocate transition. Several familiar and popular features will continue in the South Georgia Kara Witherow Advocate, including the Sunday School New Advocate editor lessons and Homer Heardmore’s “Maybe So” column. The South Georgia editorial team anticipates new features that will expand the conversation on topics related to being disciples of Jesus in today’s culture. “I look forward to meeting and working with the laity and clergy of South Georgia,” said Witherow. “We serve a mighty God who is at work all around us. I can’t wait to tell the stories of

what God is doing in our congregations and communities,” she said. Witherow invites both laity and clergy to send her information about possible news stories and photographs of events in your congregation or ministry. Information can be sent to “I am excited about the opportunities within our connection and pray that our readers will support us by subscribing or renewing their subscriptions to the South Georgia Advocate,” said Witherow. “We are grateful for the Advocate’s heritage, the stewardship of which we now assume. Many writers, staff, editors, advertisers and readers have benefitted from more than 172 years of publications,” said Dr. Brady. “We are also thankful for the new partnership with UMR and our readers which will allow us to efficiently use our resources to continue and expand our communications ministry in South Georgia,” he concluded.

Leadership Team: ‘Best summers of my life’ Continued from front page there, and wanted to help impact lives for Christ in the same way that his life was impacted. “My years on the Leadership Team were a very formative time in my life,” said Varnell, who served three summers on the Leadership Team, from 2004 through 2006. “My time there helped me realize what I wanted to do and how God wanted to use me. I saw my own strengths and what I am capable of, but more importantly, I saw what God is capable of doing through me.” Associate Director of Connectional Ministries and camp director Rev. Adam Ricker says that two main attributes he looks for in Leadership Team members are a genuine desire to serve God and a demonstrated ability to work well with others. Both traits, he says, are essential qualities to have whether working as a counselor or in full-time ministry. “We can teach them how to play games, how to sing songs and how to lead Bible studies, but if they don’t have a genuine desire to serve others and an ability to relate and work well with others, we can’t teach those,” he said. Building healthy relationships and learning to work in a team environment are key components to any successful ministry, and many Leadership Team alumni say they developed these skills while serving as camp counselors. “One thing the Leadership Team experience taught me was a team approach to ministry,” said Rev. C.J. Harp, Director of the Wesley Foundation at Valdosta State University who served on the Leadership Team for two summers, in 2001 and 2002. “As a relational being, the lone ranger approach to ministry is both draining and self-defeating. My Leadership Team experience allowed me to learn my giftings and how to use them to benefit the team as a whole.” While most of their peers are vacationing, relaxing, or spending time with friends and family, the Leadership Team counselors work with 4th–12th grade students during two weeks of middle school camps, three weeks of elementary school camps and one week of Road Rules traveling to local churches. A grueling schedule? Yes. Worth it? Definitely, say Leadership Team alumni. “Those were the best summers of my life,” said Kelly Johnson, who served on the Leadership Team from 2001 through 2003 and is now the Director of Children’s Ministries at Forest Hills United Methodist Church in Macon. “You go into the summer not knowing what to expect, and then God weaves lives and friendships together that go on for years and years.”

Johnson, who submitted her Leadership Team application after a friend shared with her his Leadership Team stories, initially just wanted to do something different and positive with her summer. What she experienced, though, turned out to be life changing. “In those three summers, I learned that I wanted to work with kids,” Johnson said. “God placed gifts in me that I never had the opportunity to use before then, and I was able to use them during the summers I was on Leadership Team. It was during my third summer that I specifically knew that I was being called into children’s ministry.” Rev. Thad Haygood, senior pastor of Perry Crossroads United Methodist Church in Perry, says that the time he spent serving on the Leadership Team was formative and impactful, as well. Growing up, he attended the camps and always admired the counselors and hoped to become one when he was older, and says it was a dream come true when he was chosen to be one. “Those four summers helped shape my call into ministry and solidify it,” said Haygood, who served on the Leadership Team from 1992 through 1995. “The people I worked with and the experiences I had really solidified that I was called into ministry. It really gave me a hunger to lead people into worship and helped me realize that it is fun to be in ministry.” In addition to helping him understand that he was being called into ministry, his time on the Leadership Team gave him tangible, concrete experience that helped prepare him for his ministry. During his last two years on the team, he had the opportunity to preach at St. Simons United Methodist Church. These opportunities, he says, allowed him the experience to do things he wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to do, such as write sermons, and pushed him to grow. Rev. Marcia Cochran, District Superintendent for the Waycross District and former camp director, agrees that serving on the Leadership Team makes a positive impact on the lives of young adults and helps prepare them for full-time ministry, noting one alumnus in particular. “Jay Hanson came into the job at a real crossroads in his life,” Cochran said. “He was not the typical ‘religious’ kid, even though he was a preacher’s kid, but he did a great job and I think it made a positive impact in his life and he’s now gone on to full-time ministry at The Chapel.” Rev. Hanson, pastor of The Chapel in Brunswick, served on the Leadership Team in the mid-1980s and later as the camp director, echoes Cochran’s statement. “I would not be where I am today if not for being hired and serving on the Leadership Team,” he says. “It was the step that

led me to where I am today. I was not planning on going into ministry; I was planning to go into sales!” Jack Caldwell, current head counselor and a senior at Georgia Southern University from Blue Ridge, is beginning his third summer on the Leadership Team. He plans to enter into full-time ministry after he graduates, hopefully in youth ministry. “This summer has already taught me so much about being a servant,” Caldwell said. “Being in ministry, you have to be a servant. It’s not always easy or fun; it’s not always about me or being in front of a crowd, but it’s about Christ. It’s a humbling experience.” Callings into ministry have been heard, lifelong friendships have been forged and marriages have been the outcome of summers spent serving together on Leadership Team, but the impact of the Leadership Team experience spreads far beyond just the actual alumni who served on the team. Its influence is felt far beyond South Georgia, with Leadership Team veterans serving in ministry in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, North Georgia and beyond. Most team members say that they haven’t fully realized the impact that their experience has played in their lives, but that it has been transforming and life changing. “I’d do it again if I had the chance,” said Haygood.


JUNE 5, 2009


Good News is here Hello beautiful people of South Georgia! As Christians, we have the best story in the universe! It is a story about salvation, abundant life, a world changing view that is FROM positive and one that us to eternity. THE connects For various reasons the BISHOP Christian witness fades JAMES into the shadows of bad KING and gloomy news and the church will often confuse boasting with witnessing to God’s goodness in the world and in our lives. Jesus instructed us as disciples to share with all that “the kingdom of God is at hand.” It is natural to share good news. But we should have an added incentive because we know that sharing the good news is the will of God for this is the means by which the Kingdom of God expands on earth. Speaking of good news, we have a new paper, the South Georgia Advocate. It replaces the Wesleyan Christian Advocate, which has blessed many down through the years. For stewardship reasons, we have had to make some adjustments. I think you will be very pleased with our new

direction. This newspaper will offer an exciting and fresh opportunity to share the Christian message across the South Georgia Annual Conference. Our new direction will also feature news across the entire connection. It is my hope that you will help our staff share the amazing work of The United Methodist Church. There are three (3) things you can do to make this newspaper successful: 1. Become a part of the newspaper staff by sending in pictures and stories of what’s happening in the life of your congregation or agency. 2. Make sure that you subscribe to the paper. 3. Give a gift subscription to a family member, friend, and the unchurched or a fellow Methodist who may not be able to afford the paper. More and more, we are called to remember that as Christians we are to be expressions of love. The church is to be a “love station.” As we thank God for the awesome wonders shared with us, let us seize the moment to give glory to God as we share the Good News. Remember, God’s will for us is good; we must do the rest. With Love, James R. King, Jr.



SOUTH GEORGIA HAPPENINGS Elementary Summer Camps Get Ready! Hold on tight! You’re headed for an incomparable experience at this year’s summer camps. With the help of the Camp Coach, campers will learn the secrets of living a victorious life. Join the team and discover the importance of how to Live Ready To Win, Live Ready To Choose, Live Ready To Share, and Live Ready To Fight! Three elementary camps are set for June 22–26, July 6–10 and July 13–17 and are intended for 4th–6th graders. Visit or call 888-266-7642 for details.

School of Christian Mission The South Georgia Conference United Methodist Women will be hosting the annual School of Christian Mission July 16–19, at Epworth By The Sea on St. Simons Island. Meeting under the theme “Together at the Table,” the school will provide a mission experience for all ages, including classes for adults, youth and children. Visit to download a brochure and registration information.

2009 Georgia Pastors’ School The 2009 Georgia Pastors’ School is set for July 27–30 at Epworth By The Sea on St. Simons Island. The focus this year will be on the facets of worship. Guest preacher will be Dr. Tom Long, and the exceptional faculty includes Dr. Don Saliers, Dr. Lisa Allen, Rev. David Wood and Mrs. Ginger Wyrick. Visit to download a brochure and to view the book list. Housing reservations can be made online at

Pathways to a Healthy Church Make plans to bring a group from your church to the annual Pathways to a Healthy Church event on Saturday, August 15 at Trinity United Methodist Church in Warner Robins. This oneday training event is aimed to equip local church leaders for ministry. A list of workshops and registration information is available online at

Sexual Ethics Workshops for Clergy The remaining Sexual Ethics Workshop for 2009 is set for September 10 at Valdosta First United Methodist Church. The workshop will begin at 9 a.m. and will conclude at 3 p.m. This workshop is required every three years for persons serving under appointment by the bishop (clergy, local pastors, extension ministers, appointed lay speakers). Cost is $5 for lunch (collected at the door). To register, send an e-mail to




Rev. Walton honored as leader in community By Kara Witherow, Editor Rev. Denise Walton, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries, was honored on Tuesday, May 12 at the YWCA of Brunswick’s 11th Annual Tribute to Women Leaders luncheon. She was one of 17 honorees and is the first “woman of faith” awarded this prestigious honor. Held on Jekyll Island, the 2009 Tribute to Women Leaders luncheon celebrated the achievements and contributions of women who have committed their personal and professional lives to serving others. An anonymous benefactor, upon hearing how Walton has faced and overcome adversity, was led to honor her “survivor” mentality, her faithfulness, and her commitment to serving others. These traits have been constants throughout Walton’s life, even before she was called into full-time ministry. “The benefactor admires Denise’s ‘ministry of presence,’” said Rev. Abra Lattany-Reed, Co-Chair of the Tribute to Women Leaders event and associate pastor of The Chapel in Brunswick. “She models the holistic approach of the YWCA and is anchoring the church to the community. Her leadership stands out. A lot of the work Denise has done speaks directly to our mission, and her full body of work as a woman minister needed to be recognized.” After graduating from Columbus State University in 1991 with a degree in criminal justice, Walton accepted an internship at Rutledge Correctional Facility in Columbus, where she worked with inmates who were being treated for mental illness. From there, she went on to work as a house parent in a transitional facility for mentally ill women and then was an advocate for nursing home patients. During her tenure as the program director with a Columbusarea homeless shelter, Open Door Community House, Walton says she achieved her most fulfilling career accomplishment to date, coauthoring a one-million dollar federal grant proposal awarded over a three-year period. Administering Montezuma United Methodist Church participated in a threenight revival hosted by Mount Pleasant/Travelers Rest Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, April 13–15. Members of Montezuma United Methodist Choir sang and the Rev. Nancylee Cater preached on Tuesday, April 14, the night Montezuma UMC was in charge of the worship service.

Rev. Denise Walton, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries, and Rev. Abra Lattany-Reed, associate pastor of The Chapel in Brunswick and co-chair of the YWCA Tribute to Women Leaders event.

the grant successfully, she built a program that today assists women in re-entering the work force with an arsenal of valuable skills. While earning her masters of divinity degree from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Walton directed mission initiatives for an Atlanta-area Presbyterian church and coordinated operations of an Atlanta homeless shelter. After completing her degree, Walton returned to Columbus and simultaneously served as chaplain to the Methodist Home for Children and Youth as well as serving at Midway United Methodist Church, Wesley Heights United Methodist Church, South Columbus United Methodist Church and Stephen’s Chapel United Methodist Church. In 2006, she was appointed Associate Director of Connectional Ministries. In this role, she has been responsible for the global missions efforts of the Conference, working closely with the East Africa Annual Conference. In 2008, she, along with Rev. Larry Rollins, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Vidalia, and the Open Hands Partnership Committee, coordinated a South Georgia tour of the African Children’s choir to seven United

Methodist districts in South Georgia. She also trains local pastors and churches in leadership development, church health and growth, safety in church regarding children and sexual abuse and many other subjects. “The Tribute to Women Leaders and YWCA is an outstanding institution in the area and this event has always highlighted great servant leaders in the community,” said Walton. “I am very humbled and honored to lead the charge and introduce women who have been called into the ministry and who are faithfully serving,” she said. June 17, Walton will begin a new chapter in her ministry as she returns to Columbus to serve her projected appointment as pastor of South Columbus United Methodist Church. “The ideal pastor should have a heart filled with love and compassion for all people, a mind that is alert and inquisitive, hands that reach out to help, and feet willing to go wherever human hurts and hopes are found,” said Rev. Lowery Brantley, Director of Connectional Ministries. “Seldom are all of these qualities, and more, found in one person. They are found in Denise Walton. She is a gifted person and a special friend,” he said.

JUNE 5, 2009

MAYBE SO. . . Dear Mr. Editor, We’ve started the new year here at Utmost United Methodist Church with new officers and programs. The future looks bright, and there is a fair amount of excitement throughout the congregation, in spite of dim economic news. We held tight on the new budget, and everyone seems to understand that until the economy improves financial outlays will be even more tightly examined. Our Pastor, Rev. Mostly Wright, says this can help us be more attentive stewards of God’s gifts. We do have a bit of a challenge in this new year. After years of discussion, we have established a firm pattern of three year terms for office holders. Some are required by the Book of Discipline, others just seem to be a good idea. Holden Tightly has kicked up a fuss about his rotation off the finance committee after serving on the committee for over twenty years. Before, when he should have rotated off, he remained on because of other offices he held. This time it was different. He held no ex-officio offices, and his rotation came up. Rev. Wright said, “It is hard on him, but in fairness, we must apply the same rule to all.” Until next time... Homer Heardmore Rhodes Crossing, GA

Members of Mulberry Street United Methodist Church in Macon contributed flowers from their own gardens to create the church’s Easter cross, a project of Mulberry UMC’s Altar Guild. Photo taken by Mulberry UMC member Everett Drinnon.

Write to Inspire

A Spiritual/Inspirational Writing Workshop Epworth By The Sea on St. Simons Island, Georgia October 23-25, 2009 Featuring: Cecil Murphey, The writer of over 108 published books including the best seller 90 Minutes in Heaven for Don Piper. Murphey says, “When I teach I feel as if I am God’s visible hands reaching out to encourage, enrich and educate others.” Also Featuring: Marjorie Wentworth, The Poet Laureate of South Carolina. Marjorie has taught workshops on spirituality and writing at Charleston Southern University. She will lead our workshops on poetry writing. Holly McClure, A literary agent and author of 4 published books. Holly will share storytelling techniques and offer an additional workshop on how to get your work published. Details online or call 912-638-8688


JUNE 5, 2009

No returns allowed The church is shrinking in England and Western Europe.How could a faith once vital become so insipid? Was there a major cataclysm or simply a gradual, terminal decline of ardor? Here is one tiny insight into why what is left of the church in the United Kingdom may be beyond rescue.It involves a congregation in the Church of England that has backed down with a pathetic whimper over the issue of baptism. There are hundreds of thousands of unbelievers in England now, adults who have made a conscious decision to have nothing to do with the church, even though many of them were baptized as infants in the Church of England.These non-believing adults, displaying a newfound assertiveness, are upset that they were baptized as infants without their own permission. (Shame on their parents!! I wonder if these same adult children are upset with their parents for having foisted polio shots on them without prior consultation?) These now indignant adults have created an organization called The National Secular Society which issues “certificates of de-baptism” for disgruntled persons who believe their

lives to be misshapen by the cleansing, purifying, Holy Spirit endued waters of baptism. People can renounce whatever part of their past they choose.That’s the deal in western civilization.You can blaze your own trail, even if it is a dead end. But the church must not lose its nerve when others are going crazy, which brings me back to the Church of England. One of these angry folk who was baptized as an infant demanded that his former parish church annotate its baptismal records to indicate that he didn’t consent to the baptism. The church backed down.Rolled over dead.Hat in hand, all but apologized for being the church where the baptismal rite was administered that signified God’s covenantal love. Duly edited their records for the sake of this grouch. Got a tattoo you don’t like? You can return to the tattoo shop and get it removed.Wish to get “un-engaged?”Return the ring. Are your bran flakes stale? The grocer will take ‘em back. Don’t like a particular program that’s running on your computer? Un-install it. But the church needs to be clear:

the sacrament of baptism has no exchange or return policy, period. Baptism is not primarily about what we do; it is about what God through the power BEYOND of the Holy Spirit THE NEWS does in us, even if CREEDE we don’t HINSHAW comprehend this grace. Those who practice believer’s baptism and those who practice infant baptism may understand baptism differently, but I hope neither “side” apologizes for the baptism. A person can renounce his or her baptism emphatically; many people do so by the way they live their life. But the church should never, ever wimp out to a person who wants some special annotation in his baptismal records.Here’s the simple truth: baptism isn’t reversible or refundable. The Rev. Creede Hinshaw is the senior pastor at Wesley Monumental UMC in Savannah. He can be reached at


Taylor Bush, 11, of Bainbridge, was recently named to the Pockets magazine 2009 Children’s Advisory Board. Published by The Upper Room in Nashville, Tenn., Pockets is a devotional magazine for children of elementary school age. It is designed for the personal use of children to grow in their relationship with God. Taylor will join other children from across the country on the 20member board. Board members receive compensation to evaluate their likes and dislikes of each issue, help the editorial staff decide on themes for future issues and tell editors what’s important to them and what they think about what’s happening in the world. Several members of the board are featured in the Advisory Spotlight portion of each monthly issue. Taylor is the daughter of Lee and Lane Bush of Bainbridge First United Methodist Church. Her grandparents are Pat and J.O. Bush of Colquitt United Methodist Church and Libba and Heidt Neal III of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Columbus.

Upcoming Special Sundays        


Wesley Glen Day—June 21 Golden Cross Sunday—July 5 Christian Education Sunday—August 16 World Communion Day—October 4 Vashti Day—October 18 Wesleyan College Day—November 8 United Methodist Student Day—November 29 United Methodist Global AIDS Fund—December 6



The 2009 YHC Clay Dotson Open was a tremendous success. The students, faculty and staff of Young Harris College would like to thank our Diamond Sponsors. Because of their continued support the college is able to provide much needed financial assistance to deserving students. DIAMOND SPONSORS


A golf tournament to benefit student scholarships at Young Harris College © 2009 Young Harris College.





JUNE 5, 2009

Moses and Aaron Respond Lesson Scripture: Exodus 4:10–16, 27–31 Moses made one try after another to escape the call of God upon his life. Listen to his questions and objections, and see if you can identify with any of them: Who am I that I should go? I don’t know enough; I don’t even know your name, and wouldn’t know what to say if they asked me the name of the god who sent me. Suppose they don’t believe me or listen to me and say that you didn’t really appear to me? I’ve never been much of a speaker and am not getting any better now that you have spoken to me. And then his final appeal: O Lord, please send someone else. Was Moses’ resistance motivated by fear of the task, by genuine feelings of inadequacy for it? He had left Egypt to escape royal fury and certain death; did he just not want to put his life on the line again? Maybe he had heard that those threatening his death were out of power now, so he wanted to leave well enough alone and not wake sleeping dogs. Or did he simply not want to get involved? He was comfortable enough where he was. He preferred to stay there and not take on such a gigantic and dangerous job. Who cannot identify with Moses in that situation? Who has never tried to escape some task or responsibility? What objections, excuses, rationalizations have you used? God’s Promise of Adequacy We cannot be sure exactly why Moses wanted to avoid the task to which God was calling him. His reasons may very well have been multiple, as is often the case with us. But notice the consistency of God’s responses to Moses’ objections: God kept telling him that he would not go alone; God would go with him. When William Howard Taft was retiring as President on Inauguration Day, he said to his successor, Woodrow Wilson,

“I’m glad to be going—this is the loneliest place in the world.” We would think that about Moses’ job as a shepherd in the Sinai Desert, wouldn’t we? What place could be more lonely than that? But at least there his responsibility was for sheep and goats, not for a whole mass of people. God did not promise Moses that he would never be lonely if he accepted this LESSON 1: call, but in one way after another God WEEK OF emphasized to him that he would not be JUNE 14 alone in carrying out his divinely appointed task. He would be adequate for it, because HERCHEL God would be with him and would supply SHEETS what he needed to do the job. The Apostle Paul testified to his experience of God’s adequacy when he wrote to the Philippians, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Moses, too, was to learn that—and so may we! When Two Work Together For a time it seemed that Moses was not willing to trust God to go with him and to empower him for this task. Maybe he would be more accepting of the responsibility if someone shared the load with him. Finally, in exasperation—actually Exodus says the Lord became angry with Moses—God told Moses that his brother Aaron would work with him. Moses claimed not to be eloquent in speech; so the Lord said that Aaron would do the talking for him. Moses would give God’s message to Aaron, and Aaron would give it Pharaoh, to the Israelites, and to everyone else who needed to hear it. Moses and Aaron would form a team to carry out this mission for God.

At least Moses did not think he was the only one around who could do the job, and so was ready to share the responsibility with Aaron. Aaron’s strength would supplement Moses’ weakness, and together they would lead their people to freedom. Here in the very beginning of the story of the formation of a special people, we see an example of how tasks for God are to be accomplished. They are to be accomplished together by people committed to God’s purposes and goals. The weaknesses of one are to be overcome by the strengths of another. What is missing in one’s knowledge and skill is to be supplied by another committed person. So what should be the attitude and motto of persons who are trying to do God’s work in the world? What about this? Together we’ll do it! Now That We Know God Cares It is interesting that their fellow Israelites were the first persons Moses and Aaron told about the mission to which God had called them. They “assembled all the elders of the Israelites,” and then Aaron told them what Moses had told him. “The people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had given heed to the Israelites and that he had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.” Sometimes it may seem that God is nowhere around and doesn’t know about our situation, our problems, our needs. But if a caring person comes on the scene, even without speaking many words, we may get the feeling that God is giving heed, that God has seen and knows. Then even if things don’t immediately change to the way we want them to be, we may be moved to “bow down and worship.” It makes all the difference in the world if we know God cares. The Rev. Herchel Sheets can be reached at

Pharaoh Ignores God’s Call Lesson Scripture: Exodus 5:1–9, 22–6:1 Are you surprised at the first response the Egyptian Pharaoh, possibly Ramses II, made to Moses and Aaron’s request to let their people go? They requested permission to go into the wilderness to “celebrate a festival,” and of course Pharaoh recognized the request as an alibi for escape. It is interesting that Pharaoh’s first response was similar to Moses’ response when God spoke to him out of the burning bush. Moses pleaded ignorance, saying that he did not even know God’s name. Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should heed him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go.” Don’t Know, Not Obligated But Pharaoh had a lot more in mind than Moses did when Moses confessed ignorance about God. Moses felt incapable of representing God because of lack of acquaintance. Pharaoh was denying that he had any commitment or responsibility to the god these slaves were asking freedom to go outside Egypt to worship. He was saying, in effect, “This god has no claim on me or control over me. I don’t owe this god anything.” On the day after his second election as President, Abraham Lincoln said: “I should be the veriest shallow and self-conceited blockhead upon the footstool, if in my discharge of the duties that are put upon me in this place, I should hope to get along without the wisdom that comes from God . . .” But Pharaoh felt no such need. He needed no help—at least not from the god these slaves were talking about. He could order and command whatever help he needed. Indeed, that was what he was doing. But he had no indebtedness to this Israelite god, and therefore owed nothing to him.

In the Bible, to know someone is to be intimately related to that person. The same is true of knowing God. If you know God, that does not mean that you know everything about God; it means that you are related to God, committed to God, ready to do what you think God wants you to do. Of course, Pharaoh did not have that kind of relationship with the God Moses LESSON 2: and Aaron represented. He was not WEEK OF interested in this God’s purposes and goals. JUNE 21 So he was ready to say “No” to anything having to do with this God. HERCHEL You can’t know God and then just ignore SHEETS God’s wishes, purposes, and demands. Maybe that is why so many in our day, too, are saying, in effect if not in actual words, “Who is the Lord that I should heed him . . .? I do not know the Lord, and I will not . . .” Work, Not Worship If Moses and Aaron expected immediate compliance with their request on the part of the Pharaoh, they were quickly relieved of their delusion. Not only did he vigorously affirm his denial of their request; he also demanded that they get back to work, and issued new work requirements for the Israelites. They were to continue making bricks, but without the supply of straw usually provided for them. Instead, they were to collect the straw themselves, and still produce as many bricks as they had been producing. Pharaoh’s view was that these slaves existed to do the work he wanted them to do. That was to be their priority. Nothing else—not even worship of their god—was to come before that. At first the Israelites thought they had no choice. Pharaoh

ordered them to work, and they thought they had to give first attention to that. It was not what they wanted to do, but it was what they thought they had to do. It was Pharaoh’s priority for them, and so had to be their priority, too. How many of us allow others to determine our priorities? We may say that circumstances sometimes determine our priorities, and there is certainly truth in that. But should anyone or anything cause us to make decisions that crowd God out of the primary place in our hearts and lives? Those slaves could not, at the moment, escape responsibility for doing the work Pharaoh demanded that they do, but did that mean that God could not still be uppermost in their minds and hearts? Work, not worship, is what Pharaoh said, but maybe at least a few of them said, “We’ll worship while we work, we’ll focus on God even as we hunt straw and make bricks.” Choice Made the Difference Moses and Pharaoh made different decisions about responding to the claims and the directives of the Lord. Would anyone say that their respective decisions were unimportant, that they did not matter? If this Pharaoh was Ramses II, historians say that he had tremendous influence in the world of his day, but who except historians remember much about him today and who could say that their lives have been enriched in any way by his? But Moses’ influence is different. He has to be counted as one of the most helpfully influential persons of all times. And the differences in the responses of these two men to the call of God made the difference. It does matter whether you say “Yes” or “No” to God’s call upon your life! The Rev. Herchel Sheets can be reached at


JUNE 5, 2009



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Scripture readings June 7th Trinity Sunday Isaiah 6:1–8 Psalm 29 Romans 8:12–17 John 3:1–17

June 14th I Samuel 15:34–16:13 Psalm 20 or Psalm 92 II Corinthians 5:6–10 (11–13), 14–17 Mark 4:26–34

June 21st I Samuel 17:(1a, 4–11, 19–23), 32–49 Psalm 9:9–20 II Corinthians 6:1–13 Mark 4:35–41

Rev. Herbert MaGill Rev. Herbert MaGill, 81, died Thursday, April 16. Rev. MaGill faithfully served as a minister in the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church at Woodlawn United Methodist Church in Savannah and at Asbury United Methodist Church in Columbus before retiring in 1992, and then served at Talbotton United Methodist Church and Preston United Methodist Church in retirement. Roy Funk Mr. Roy C. Funk, 66, husband of Rev. B.J. Funk, the associate pastor of Central United Methodist Church, died Saturday, April 18, at his residence. Mr. Funk was born in Burlington, Mich., on June 30, 1942, to George and Eleanor Funk. He was preceded in death by his mother. In 1974, Mr. Funk moved to Tifton to open a Pasquale’s Pizza restaurant. He eventually left the Pasquale’s chain and changed the restaurant’s name to Chicago Pizza and Pasta, which is now owned and operated by his son Vince Funk. Most of his activities, however, involved his church, where he sang in the choir, served as a Sunday School teacher and as an administrative board/council chairman. He also enjoyed caring for the plants around the church. Survivors include his wife; his father; sons, Vince Funk of Tifton, Deron Funk of Hiram, Robby Funk of Sycamore, Shawn Stafford of Martin and Chad Smith of Nashville, Tenn.; and sisters, Janet Shearer of Huber Heights, Ohio, and Shirley Clutter of Lecanto, Fla. Services were held at Trinity United Methodist Church in Tifton with the Revs. Ronald Johnson, Chris Ramsey and Jay Roberson officiating. Carolyn Looney Carolyn Adele Looney, 78, wife of Bishop Richard

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Looney, died April 21 in Tennessee. She was preceded in death by her parents, her son, David Looney, and her brother. She is survived by her husband, Richard Looney; children, Teresa Brolley and husband, John of Erlanger, Ky., and Jonathon Looney of Chattanooga, Tenn.; grandchildren, Maria and Ian Brolley of Erlanger, Ky., Logan Thrower and Joseph Looney, both of Ft. Oglethorpe, Ga.; and several nieces and nephews. A memorial service was held at Mulberry Street United Methodist Church in Macon, Ga. on Saturday, May 16. Rev. Keith Webb Rev. Ronald Kenneth Webb, 73, died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday, May 6 in Lakeland, Fla. He is survived by his wife Glenda; daughter Kimberly; and brother Stephen. Rev. William H. Ford, Sr. Rev. William H. Ford, Sr. died Sunday, May 10. He was a minister with the United Methodist Church for 41 years, serving in the Kentucky and South Georgia conferences. His pastorates included churches in the Savannah, Americus, Macon and Columbus districts. Rev. Ford was one of five children born to Emma Gene and Grady Lee Ford on February 24, 1933. Rev. Ford graduated from Toccoa Falls College in 1955, Asbury College in 1958 and Emory University in 1965. He also received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from John Marshall Law School. He retired from the United Methodist Church in 1996. Rev. Ford is survived by his wife of 53 years, Boonie; their children Dawn (Charlton Veazey), Charles, Sr., Rollin (Sandie), William, Jr., (Holly) Ford; eight grandchildren; and 1 great-grandchild. He is preceded in death by one granddaughter and 3 siblings. Services were held May 14 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Savannah with Rev. Jim McIlrath officiating.

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Pops Giving back Bullfighter Bunched fruit Western Athletic Conferences OT Book Anticipate Exp. with biblical roots; “Let the __ fall where they may.” (Ecclesiastes 11:3) Theater Mumble Peel In Polk County, GA Since One of the animals on the ark Paul considered Timothy to be like a ___ Regional plant life Author Poe GA county Sphere Speck Cain’s grandson Colorless Detail Greek stringed instrument Pot Bon ___: witticism

For answers see page 2A




JUNE 5, 2009

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South Georgia Advocate - June 5 Edition  

South Georgia Advocate - June 5 Edition